Leader says Vietnam, India trying to clear Tata project

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India and Vietnam are trying to clear Tata Steel Ltd.'s proposed $5 billion factory in the Southeast Asian nation, delayed for more than four years by regulatory hurdles.

"We understand the importance of the Tata Group," Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang told reporters Wednesday in New Delhi. "Indian and Vietnamese officials are trying their best to kickstart the project."

Vietnam set up a group of officials from the central and provincial governments to resolve land clearance and compensation issues.

The group will work with Tata Steel executives to find a solution within a month, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong said on Aug. 31. The proposed factory would rank among Vietnam's biggest by investment capital.

Tata Steel, India's largest producer, first signed an agreement with Vietnam Steel Corp. in May 2007 to develop a plant with an output capacity of about 4.5 million metric tons a year in coastal Ha Tinh province.

The Indian company, which operates in Africa, Europe and Australia, estimated the first phase of the project would be completed by the end of 2010, according to a 2008 press release.

Tata Steel would have a minimum 65 percent stake in the project, with Vietnam Steel Corp. and Vietnam Cement Industries Corp. the remainder, according to the 2008 press release.

Tata would also hold a 30 percent stake in Thach Khe Iron Ore Joint Stock Company, which would undertake mining in the Thach Khe iron ore mine, according to details on Tata Steel's website.

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